Nixon Renews Long Term Goals in Last State of State Sppech
January 21, 2016

(AP) – Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon made another push Wednesday night to tighten Missouri’s ethics laws, delivering his final State of the State speech to a Republican-led Legislature under heightened scrutiny following scandals that prompted the resignations of two lawmakers.

Nixon, who leaves office in January 2017 because of term limits, cited big checks to candidates from donors and lobbyist gifts as giving the perception of undue influence on public officials, and he criticized the current policy that allows lawmakers to hire each other as political consultants.

His speech Wednesday night echoed parts of his first address to lawmakers after assuming office in 2009, when he implored the Legislature to “pass a real campaign finance reform bill.” He has called for some kind of ethics revamp in every State of the State since.

“Missouri’s ethics laws are a disgrace, the weakest in the nation,” Nixon said. He went on to say Missouri needs to “clean up its act.”

Missouri is unique as the only state with the trio of unlimited campaign contributions, uncapped lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and a revolving door that allows lawmakers to immediately become lobbyists after leaving office.

The previous House speaker, Republican John Diehl, stepped down on the last day of the 2015 session after admitting to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a Capitol intern. Former Sen. Paul LeVota, D-Independence, resigned months later amid allegations that he sexually harassed interns. He denied those claims.

While proposals are moving forward to ban gifts and close the revolving door of lawmakers becoming lobbyists, measures on contribution limits have not yet received a hearing and appear unlikely to pass. Legislative leaders have not cited curbing campaign donations among their top priorities this session.

Still, the fast pace of the proposals that have advanced could mean Nixon, after years of calls for action, will finally sign legislation to change state ethics laws.

Support from Republican House and Senate leaders, who have similarly said ethics is a top priority this session, is meaningful in a political atmosphere in which Nixon and lawmakers at times are at odds.

For example, Nixon and House Speaker Todd Richardson, who was to give the Republican response to the governor’s speech, clashed on several points during their addresses.

Where Nixon called again to expand eligibility for Medicaid health care, Richardson criticized spending on the program and promised to pass a law “requiring state agencies to fact check applicants” for Medicaid. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, later criticized the proposed increase in spending in Nixon’s budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, particularly what Schaefer called “the astronomical growth in welfare spending.”

When some House Democrats stood and applauded Nixon’s calls to bar discrimination against LGBT people, Republicans sat silent. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard after the speech said such legislation doesn’t have a chance of passing the Senate.

And while both Richardson and Nixon cited finding a way to pay for repairs to the state’s aging roads and bridges as a priority, the two had different ideas on how to accomplish that.

Richardson, according to a copy of his remarks distributed to news organizations before delivery, also more broadly criticized Nixon for what he called lack of leadership.

“Each January he comes to the General Assembly and promises to meaningfully engage on the challenges facing Missouri,” Richardson said. “With few exceptions, he has failed to deliver on that promise.”

Missouri House Changes Rules, Bills Must Clear 2 Committees
January 15, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – The Missouri House will require most bills to go through two committees before moving to the full chamber this year.

The House adopted rules Thursday requiring bills to pass through a regular committee and then a select committee before being sent to the floor.

House Majority Leader Todd Richardson, of Poplar Bluff, says the process will bring better vetting of legislation, more single-subject bills and improved transparency.

Democratic Rep. John Rizzo, of Kansas City, says the changes will improve the legislative process.

But Rizzo failed in an attempt to change the rules to allow lawmakers to draft amendments after a bill is brought up and introduce the amendment before it’s fully distributed.

Richardson says distributing amendments in advance keeps the process transparent.

Lawmakers Push on Scanning State Documents
March 27, 2013

(AP) – Missouri lawmakers pressed their objections to digital copying of driver’s license applicants’ personal documents, supporting a budget proposal Tuesday aimed at prohibiting the scanning and retaining of such records.

“There’s no purpose to scanning these source documents, and without any purpose, I don’t think we should be creating a huge database of source documents,” said Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff.

The budget amendment also takes aim at the use of any photo validation system. It was added by the House to the proposed nearly $25 billion budget taking effect July 1.

Attention over driver’s licenses and state identification cards was ignited this month after a southeastern Missouri man filed a lawsuit challenging a recent requirement that documents such as birth certificates and concealed weapons endorsements be scanned into a state computer system. The lawsuit raised concerns that details could be shared with the federal government and others.

The Department of Revenue has said information is not shared with other entities. Under the new process, local license office clerks scan applicants’ personal documents instead of simply examining them. Digital documents are sent electronically with other applicant information to a state data center. The department said the scanned documents are retained by the state while other basic information is forwarded to a contractor that is supposed to delete the information after printing and mailing the driver’s license.

Emerson Joins Her Biggest Contributor
December 4, 2012

Southeast Missouri Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson will leave Congress to join a very familiar group.
The Southeast Missourian reports the 16 year Congressional veteran is leaving to head the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, a not-for-profit organization that represents the interests of rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.
Emerson had a conference call from Washington, D.C., with reporters Monday during which she said the decision to leave Congress was one made quickly, and that she did not seek out the position. The electric cooperative association is among Emerson’s campaign contributors. The website, which compiles data on money in elections and the political process, lists the association as Emerson’s all-time top campaign contributor, having given her $79,803.
Emerson said her pending departure wasn’t a long-planned move.
“This has all been very short and very quick,” she said. “You can’t always have control over the timing.”
Emerson said she has met with the board of the organization twice since the last election, and the board finalized a decision to hire her Monday morning.
Emerson comes from a family of Republicans involved in politics. Growing up in Bethesda, Md., her father once served as executive director the Republican National Committee. Before winning election to Congress, Emerson held various jobs with industry lobbying groups, including the National Restaurant Association and had worked in Republican politics.
On Monday she likened the NRECA and customers served by its members to her constituents.
“I just feel like its an extension of the job I am doing now,” she said of her new position.
The area she represents has nine electric co-ops that are members of the association.
Past challengers and Republicans in offices small and large floated their names as replacements for Emerson on Monday. Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Cape Girardeau native, expressed interest, as did Lloyd Smith, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, and former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, whose last bid for office was an attempt at a U.S. Senate seat earlier this year.
State representatives Jason Smith, of Salem, Mo., along with Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff, Mo., and Kevin Engler of Farmington, Mo., also floated their names.
Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Clint Tracy was mentioned as a candidate. Cape Girardeau County Associate Circuit Judge Scott Lipke said he’s going to consider putting his name up for nomination, but that he’s not ready to make that decision yet. He’ll need time to pray and consult with family, he said. Late Monday, current state Rep. Wayne Wallingford, who was elected in the August primary to succeed state Sen. Jason Crowell, said he is considering seeking the nomination.
Crowell is being talked about as a potential candidate, but he hasn’t committed to an effort, citing the need to discuss the decision with his family.
“At this time I have no idea about my future plans, but I am humbled and honored by the confidence so many have shown me,” Crowell said in a statement sent Monday after receiving numerous inquiries about his interest.
Crowell’s term in the Missouri Senate ends in January.
A special election will be needed to select a replacement representative. The district covers 30 counties in southern and eastern Missouri. Political party committees in the 8th District will nominate candidates to run in the special election, the date of which will be set by Gov. Jay Nixon.

Can Your Cell Phone Be Added to the ‘No-Call List’?
February 15, 2012

Missouri news Horizon via
Efforts are underway in the Missouri House of Representatives to do away with annoying sales calls to mobile phones.
Although state law currently gives Missourian’s the option to register their home phones on the state’s no-call registry to avoid unwanted solicitations, cell phones have no such protection.
“I think the telemarketing industry has gotten a whole a lot more aggressive at trying to reach out to cell phones,” said Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, the bill’s sponsor. “This will allow the Attorney General to have a list he can actually enforce.”
Richardson’s bill adding cell phones to the list was heard by a state House committee on Tuesday.
Missouri’s no-call list is administered by the state attorney general’s office. Assistant Attorney General Joan Gummels told committee members that cell phones are only covered by the federal no-call list, which is much less inclusive than the state alternative.